Emerging from the Ideological Slumber

Many would agree that American politics is an absurdity. But what is at the root of this sad circumstance? I believe it is a lack of understanding of what politics ought to be. What we see on the political stage–as well as off it–are individuals battling over whose ideology is right. In the name of freedom we have individuals fighting against taxation and government services. In the name of the common good we have other individuals fighting to maintain or increase taxation and government services. The first group wants self-reliance and small government, while the second group wants government to step in to counteract society’s inequalities. And so the two groups take turns yelling at each other, convincing no one in the process.

The problem is that the paradigm within which these two groups are operating is flawed. Each side is trying to win rather than arrive at ethical and scientific  truth–the proper purpose of politics. Politics ought to be about ethical philosophy and social science. First we must engage in ethical philosophy to determine what our goal ought to be. Once that is established, we ought then engage in social science to determine how we may reach our goal.

There is no need for political ideologies. There is no need for socialism or conservatism or libertarianism. Instead we should identify ourselves through our ethical philosophies–Kantianism, utilitarianism, humanism, or of course some personal hybrid.

When it comes to social science, we must simply aim to be objective. After all, we need to know the truth in order to be successful fulfilling our ethical principles. Thus, we must recognize the reality that both biological and environmental factors play a role in human behavior. We should view an individual’s biology as a filter through which thon experiences the world.  We should inquire into the distribution of various biological traits instead of making the unsophisticated assumption that “humans are naturally selfish” or that “humans are born good and corrupted by society”. Let’s carefully look into the various factors influencing human society. Let’s respect the difficulty in differentiating inborn from learned traits. Let’s pursue as full a perspective as we can muster, while respecting our analytical limits.

Through a true devotion to the ethical, we can produce much progress. We need only the vision to see  why this is imperative, the courage to critically inquire into our own beliefs, and the strength to endure the uncomfortable feeling that will result.

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5 responses to “Emerging from the Ideological Slumber

  1. Thank you for pointing out one of the most important things we do not see going on in today’s political landscape. It is always more difficult to observe what is not visible versus what is. I have many thoughts that I can’t quite sum up right here right now, but to truly create some meaningful legislation, policy, and change from this state of disarray in which our society finds itself in, meaningful discourse of this nature ought to be going on beyond the realm of academia, obscure policy think-tanks, and the intellectual elite.
    I am going to posit the following about the current political landscape: In the majority, 1) Our moral/ethical guidelines are mutually agreed upon – to succeed in promoting the American empire, prosperity, and influence around the world at all costs, so long as they present the image of America as a force of liberation 2) Our social scientific policies become thus divided as to the who benefits, when, how, and how much. Those who usually advocate for a deviation from this mean are shunned by the mainstream.
    What do y’all think?

  2. Hi, my name is Mark in Denver. i want to become a “soldier of truth” (what Gandhi called Socrates). i have already come a long way but am looking to put together a group for support. my experience has been that real truth-seeking, that is, actually seeking larger and deeper truths as opposed to just self-interested probing to confirm preconceived notions or to make more money or to seek comfort, is rare. indeed, almost nonexistent. if you ain’t got truth you ain’t got nothin’.
    i would probably write different people weekly to seek support and challenge me, it could be email correspondence or something more if desired. i am 59. i could offer others support if desired but mostly want to put together like minded, sincere seekers of truth. is this something you might be interested in? any leads would be appreciated.
    thank you for your consideration, Mark Hanawalt communitytruth@yahoo.com

  3. Mark, I recommend reading this article from the Foundation for Critical Thinking: http://www.criticalthinking.org/articles/sts-developing-rational-persons.cfm
    Let me know what you think.

  4. Mark, I also highly recommend reading the Cambridge edition of Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy: http://www.amazon.com/Arnold-Culture-Writings-Cambridge-Political/dp/052137796X

  5. I thought of one more reading: Max Weber’s “Objectivity of Social Science and Social Policy” – http://jthomasniu.org/class/Stuff/PDF/weber-objectivity.pdf

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